It's the time of year to list the best records of the year. We've asked some of our favourite acts to tell us which five albums they've had in heavy rotation.
These favourite fives come from five of our favourite acts of 2009. There's the head-contorting Kevin Barnes of Montreal who repeatedly blew our staff away across the course of '09. We also got not five but ten favourites from Metric who took over the site for a week earlier this year to coincide with the release of Fantasies. Additionally Edwin from Foals who spent most of this year writing their new record took some time to tell us his favourite tracks of the year and Katie from Sky Larkin has also provided us with her top five.
But to kick things off Hayley Williams of chart-toppers Paramore took a few mins before soundcheck ahead of tonight's sold out show at Wembley Arena to tell us which five albums she's been cranking in 2009. We also asked all the acts to do us a little "postcard from 2009" and a few of them did but Hayley's really run with the idea and kicks her selection off with a postcard to her mom/mum...
Hayley Williams from Paramore (pictured)
A postcard from 2009: Hey Mom, this year's been a trip. Seems like yesterday we were all holed up in the rehearsal space, writing the record. It happened fast like a dream. We spent our whole summer with No Doubt. Then our record came out and beat out Madonna for the top spot on the charts. #1. Can you believe it? We toured with our best friends all over the world. The Swellers, Paper Route, Now Now Every Children, and You Me At Six. I even got to sing on a track with my friends in Set Your Goals. We're finishing up the year right now in the UK. All our shows are sold out. All of them! The last show of the year is at Wembley Arena. Don't know if you've heard of it... but that place is very large. Very. Alright, I gotta go. Love you, Mom. Your sweet sweet wonderful and totally lovely daughter, Hayley.
1) The Swellers Ups and Downsizing
These guys are some of my best friends. They were the only signing this year to our label, Fueled By Ramen and to be honest, they're one of the first true punk rock bands that the label has signed in a while.
2) Eminem Relapse
Jeremy and I are big fans of just about everything he's ever done. This record is like, what, his 8th record? And it's still just as good as all the rest of them. Definitely excited for Relapse: Refill.
3) Set Your Goals This Will Be The Death Of Us
Another band that are good friends of mine... they work so hard and put on one of the best shows of any bands in their genre. I actually got to sing on one of these songs. It's called 'The Few That Remain' - I'm really excited I got to be a part of the record.
4) mewithoutYou It's All Crazy, It's All False, It's All A Dream, It's Alright...
I've been a fan of this band since I was 13. They never disappoint and they always do exactly what they want, musically. This record is the least aggressive of all of them and the most melodic. While it's not my favorite record of the bands' it's still one of the best of the year, in my opinion.
5) Regina Spektor Far
This record is my favorite because of track five, 'Machine'. It's one of my favorite songs of the entire year. The entire record is amazing... You gotta hear it, if you haven't already.
'09 honourable mentions: Fireworks, New Found Glory, Paper Route, Now Now Every Children, You Me At Six, Kadawatha, Inglorious Basterds, Where The Wild Things Are, Zombieland, Zombies in general, Dead Snow, Paramore.net, MovieScenester.com, Absolutepunk.net, macaroni and cheese casserole.
Joshua Winstead from Metric
I couldn't just pick five, so here's ten...
1) Fever Ray Fever Ray
This album turned on a new light in the electronic world, or if you have seen their show maybe turned a light off. Karin Dreijer Andersson wrote and performed most of this both disturbing and beautiful album. Fever Ray seems to have come from a place of honesty, bravery and talent. I say well done!
2) Grizzly Bear Veckatimest
Four guys working together to create a sound that is uniquely their own. While all four do a fantastic job of writing, playing and singing. I have to shout out Edward Droste for his exquisite guitar and voice. Listen again and you will slowly get to know his voice and realize what is hidden in the bear cave.
3) Bear in Heaven Beast Rest Forth Mouth
Alright so I'm an animal lover, most well adjusted humans are (what ever that means). A play on words, an album at years end that seems to have been there the whole (waiting to happen if you will). I learned that forever will there be lovesick teenagers and I understood and believed.
4) Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
'My girls', so many other tracks all great, but really 'My girls'.
5) Yeah Yeah Yeah's It's Blitz
In all honesty I am a big fan of their earliest work, dirty torn up rock and roll. But to make such a seamless transition means I can't hold it against them that they made a great electro album. So I guess I just grow up with them if they are going to force me. Which is what they are a force.
6) Drake So Far Gone
This album is the start of an interesting career. Who knows where it will end up, but I will be listening.
7) Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca
African rhythms while chilling in brooklyn, singing your ass off. Come on relax nobody is watching you. Expand put down the remote and listen to music again.
8) Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Take a moment to listen to an album that feels thought out to the perfect degree. They seem to have realized the fine line between drawing a boundary and giving us the freedom to explore within it.
9) Girls Album
Girls took a great approach to this album. Make music people can sing along with on the first or second listen. Without dumbing down the music they were able to create memorable songs that we could all sing along. Ah choruses.
10) Flight of the Conchords Told You I Was Freaky
If you could invite two comedians/musicians to your party who would they be. End of story you are hanging with Flight of the Conchords. This is smart and fun music, not for the take yourself too seriously type. Get it on vinyl, chicks dig it.
Kevin Barnes from of Montreal
These are in no particular order, just records that i enjoyed this year.
Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
Like everyone else in the world, I love this album, perfect soundtrack for knife fishing, as well as symbolic theft, not that i do either of those things, just seems like it would work for both.
Dan Deacon Bromst
This is the sound you'd hear if you died of playstation, that is a cause of death, right?
Fever Ray Fever Ray
Vampires who like rainbows like this album and so do i
Passion Pit Manners
Barely asian semi-quad tone electronica, with a touch of old world harmonic maleficence, quite reminiscent of early Robert Horry, but with slightly less emphasis on the perimeter play. The three point shooting is almost identical however.
Micachu and the Shapes: Jewellery she/they top the list of artists i'd love to see live, seems like it would be a thunderdome
Edwin from Foals
I really struggled with this. I just don't like favourites. And I prefer songs. Here are five that may have been missed…
Joker 'Purple City'
The biggest and boldest not-really-dubstep statement of the year, and as much as I like Joy Orbison I think Joker is the boy-most-likely-to from the UK's underground. Like Prince and the slickest G-funk and the most avant garde r&b and general, y'know, beats… and it just shits out killer riffs, endless rolling energy and invention. And does anything even sound as good, on headphones on a club PA? Well, no. how all these tuneless fuzzy no-fi bands can sleep at night knowing this sort of thing even exists in the world is beyond me. okay, it's not a zero-sum game, but life is short, and i prefer forwards to backwards--call me, uh, old fashioned?
Tempa T 'Next Hype (starkey vocal mix)'
The most claustrophobic vocal I've ever heard. I still can't get my head around it or anywhere even near it. Head-spinning violence and energy but starkey makes it with the remix, squeezing every last drop of liquid shimmering funk from whatever futuristic synths he keeps in his cupboard. It just builds and builds until there's no room to breathe, let alone gasp. and then it just sort of finishes. And you think, sound of 2010, who's the next hype? okay, don't answer that question.
Floating Points 'k&g beat'
Yannis bought this on 12" and brought it home one day and we listened to it on our wobbly little turntable in our crumbling little house with dust in our lungs and tears in our eyes. It brought us closer together, for sure. He liked it, and I was secretly delighted that he'd accidentally bought a garage record. finally, the crossover! it sums up a lot of what i loved about underground dance music this year: the bubbling, the, er, flex, and the deep soulful vibes. No, really. There is so much oozing pugent history to it, and it sounds so simple, like maybe god does exist and has been cooking up beats deep underground for the last few million years, and one of them just popped up and here it is and here we all are, for ever and ever or maybe just a few more weeks.
Tony Lionni 'Found a place'
Deep house is apparently a dirty word to some people, but this is fresh as. And like the best house it sounds like it was recorded in one take in somebody's bedroom, with a dilapidated old piano, a rent-an-ooh soul singer, a cheap and rusty delay pedal, and a whole lot of narcotics. It just bobs along, basically, like the proverbial ship in the storm. up and down and round and round, going nowhere in particular. I listen to it on loop in my head while i'm cleaning my teeth and washing my hair and generally trying to keep up appearences in this bedraggling world of ours. if only everything was this easy.
The Very Best 'Kamphopo'
Apparently the instrumental is by Architecture for Helsinki, but it's Esau Mwamwaya who gives this life. endlessly infectious and uncompromisingly joyful… and lord fucking knows what it's about. I used to sort-of live around the corner from the barely-mythical furniture shop that esau works/worked at, though i didn't know it at the time, and if Chatsworth Road in Homerton can inspire this song--or if it can at least not destroy whatever inspiration birthed it--then there is hope for us all, and we'll probably do pretty well at the olympics in a couple of years. perhaps. (this might count as a song from 2008 but i have been listening to it all year and i think it was technically released in the summer sometime year….)
Katie from Sky Larkin
(In no particular order)
Micachu and the Shapes Jewellery
My headphones probably know this album off by heart by now. Texturetexturetexture. It's like you can actually hear her brain working. Buoyant pop songs dressed in all sorts of sounds. Sonically smart, brutal and vulnerable all at once.
Fly Girls! (Compilation) Soul Jazz Records
My favourite record-shopping-on-tour purchase of the year. Released to commemorate 30 years of women in rap, it charts the path from the first female rap vocal (and the Roxanne Wars) to the first female rap Grammy (Missy Elliott "The Rain -Supa Dupa Fly"). Genuinely essential. "B-boys Beware" alone had me giddy for weeks.
Michael Lerner is a hugely creative and sweet-natured Pacific North-Westerner who wrote and performed all of this lovely record. He assisted the recording of The Golden Spike in Seattle, we're almost like exchange students as he wrote parts of this album in the North of England. It has propelled our tour van for many miles ("Coast of Carolina" in particular). Plus, when performing as Telekinesis live with a full band he takes on the tricky role of drummer-as-lead-singer with flair and characteristic enthusiasm. Neat.
The soundtrack to many fond memories of this year as it seemed to be the record everyone agreed was awesome everywhere I went. As immersive as it is immediate. Swoon.
The Invisible The Invisible
Such a full bodied, raw edged record. This really does sound like London to me and it's a thoughtful, passionate, pulsing kind of Britishness. iTunes stats report that I should at least be sick of "Monster's Waltz", "Constant" and "OK" by now. Nope.
Also, two other albums that were new to me and were central to my 2009 soundtrack (but weren't released this year) are Life Without Buildings' Live At The Annandale Hotel and The Replacements' Let It Be. "Juno" and "Favorite Thing" in particular.
For lots more Favourite Fives and year-end coverage click here.